Not a Public Use After All
Moshe Tal’s company, Tal Technologies Inc., once owned a small parcel of land on the edge of the Bricktown Canal waterway, adjacent to a newly-constructed minor league baseball stadium. In 1995, Tal submitted a plan to build a parking/hotel/retail development on his property. At the time, city officials encouraged his redevelopment plans but warned that the City planned to acquire the land.1 The City eventually condemned Tal’s property, along with others.2 The City was bound to use land that it acquired by condemnation for public purposes only. It therefore transferred the land to Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority (OCURA), which could sell or lease the land to private interests. OCURA asked for redevelopment proposals, and Tal and two other developers advanced proposals.3 In 1998, OCURA chose a plan submitted by one of the other two developers that included a 26-screen movie theater, an IMAX cinema, shops and restaurants. The City then sold the land to the other developer.4 Tal then launched a series of lawsuits. His attempt to void the condemnation and recover his land, based on the private use, was unsuccessful in the Oklahoma courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined review.5 Tal’s taxpayer lawsuits challenging the project were similarly unsuccessful.6
1 Charolette Aiken, “Bricktown Investment Group Proposes $160 Million Mall,” The Saturday Oklahoman, Nov. 4, 1995, at News 1.
2 See Steve Lackmeyer, “City Ready to End Battle Over Bricktown Parking,” The Daily Oklahoman, June 10, 1997, at News 1.
3 Steve Lackmeyer, “3 Developers Vying to Build Bricktown Lot,” The Daily Oklahoman, July 18, 1997, at News 1.
4 Steve Lackmeyer & Jack Money, “Council OKs Theater Project by One Vote,” The Daily Oklahoman, July 22, 1998, at News 1.
5 Pat Taylor, “Outside View: A Question of Eminent Domain,” United Press International, Apr. 1, 2002; Tal Techs., Inc. v. Oklahoma City, Case No. 94,045 (Okla. Ct. App. July 31, 2001) (unpublished), cert. denied, 535 U.S. 987 (2002).
6 See Oklahoma ex rel. Tal v. Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority, 19 P.3d 268 (Okla. 2000), cert. denied, 534 U.S. 814 (2001), later proceeding at 61 P.3d 234 (2002).